After objecting to anti-trolling move, NCW now returns Maneka Gandhi’s draft trafficking bill

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In yet another confrontation with the Women and Child Development Ministry, the National Commission of Women has returned to WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi the Draft Trafficking of Persons Bill, calling it “untenable” in its current form.

“We can’t accept this bill. If we make recommendations on it, it would mean we are accepting it in some form,” said a NCW source.

Listing the panel’s objections, the source said, “When there is already a law — Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act– then we need to work within its ambit. Also, the bill doesn’t define trafficking and rehabilitation.”

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Over the past 10 days, this is the third issue over which there are differences between WCD and NCW.

Earlier, Gandhi was learnt to have expressed her displeasure over the way NCW was pursuing the controversy over Bollywood star Salman Khan’s rape remark.

Later, Lalitha Kumaramangalam had voiced her objections to the WCD ministry’s anti-trolling move.

“You can’t police the net. It is an open space, it is like a galaxy almost,” she had told PTI.

NCW is not the only body to criticise the draft bill.

Several NGOs have dubbed the proposed legislation as “vague and full of loopholes” and sought “better, wider and deeper consultation” on it.

Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar too has written to the ministry on behalf of National Coalition for Protection of our Children over the “shortcomings” of the draft bill.

“The bill suffers from several legislative and procedural flaws,” he told PTI.

Most of the NGOs also wondered how a draft meant to become a legislation on trafficking does not even define the term “trafficking”.

Many activists say the draft creates confusion about the existing law on trafficking, i.e. ITPA.

“One doesn’t know whether the bill is in addition to ITPA or its replacement. If it is a replacement then the provisions of ITPA must find place in the new bill,” according to comments submitted by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.

Many also contend how another law, Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, has stronger provisions for rehabilitation of trafficked children than the new draft bill and therefore there is a need for cross-references to be made to the JJ Act.

However, the chapters on rehabilitation in the draft do not mention JJ Act at all.

The ministry had released the proposed legislation in May and invited comments and feedback by June 30 as part of the consultation process.

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